I always enjoy perusing the comments my articles generate on HotelNewsNow.com. I don’t do so out of vanity. Rather, I like seeing which stories spark conversation and debate. Fortunately, most of that discourse is positive. Some of it’s hilarious. And a healthy minority is positively insightful.
Yet for all those contributions, I’ll admit it’s rare that a reader comment or email makes me stop and rethink the way I wrote about a given topic.
The last one I can think of was written way back in March, when I wrote an article detailing the then-impending changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act in “New ADA changes could prove costly.”
As the headline implies, the article focused on costs associated with the new guidelines—both in terms of implementation (i.e. installing the right stuff) and penalties (i.e. getting fined for not installing the right stuff).
I wasn’t alone in my approach. The vast majority of the conversation focused on this aspect of the issue. In webinars, private conversations and other media coverage, it seemed all anyone could talk about was cost, cost, cost.
But it wasn’t until Joan Eisenstodt wrote the following comment that I realized I had forgotten another crucial cost entirely: the impact on guests.
“It is critical for hoteliers and for meeting planners to understand the compliance issues. I do wish that instead of the focus on the cost to be in compliance, there would be a focus on the people who will benefit from compliance, who will be able to be accommodated. Our industry (hospitality) forgets the markets that this benefits. And with many aging boomers still attending meetings and traveling for biz and leisure, it's just smart.”
I was reminded of Joan’s comment last week when we ran a news release from the American Association of People with Disabilities, which held a protest in front of the AH&LA’s offices in Washington, D.C., to demand the hotel trade group stop its lobbying efforts to “block equal access to America’s swimming pools.”
First, let’s be clear: Do I think the AH&LA is really blocking equal access to America’s swimming pools by lobbying against a new ADA guideline calling for fixed pool lifts? Of course not. The AH&LA’s protest simply is calling into question the unreasonable and confusing nature of this particular amendment to the legislation; the U.S. Department of Justice only clarified the specifics of what types of pool lifts were required a month or two before the guidelines went into place—well after many proactive hoteliers purchased mobile units.
But just as the AH&LA represents the interests of the hotel industry, the AAPD is well within its right to come out with strong language to represent the interests of its constituents—namely, the millions of disabled travelers whom a pool lift can mean the difference between safely entering a pool and being stranded on the sidelines.
Hoteliers who see this debate as black versus white, their side versus ours are missing the point. If pool lifts were banished forever, then they would then lose a very viable niche market.
The goal, then, shouldn’t be to deliver a knockout punch, but rather to shake hands over a common-sense compromise. Both sides should agree on an equitable solution, one that calls for a reasonable expectation of hoteliers while at the same time satisfying the needs of disabled guests.
As I see it, the answer is simple: mobile pool lifts. They’re less intrusive, less expensive and, most importantly, get the job done.
The key stakeholders would be wise to follow Joan’s advice and think of all sides of this contentious issue. As she says quite succinctly, “It’s just smart.”
Now on to the usual goodies …
Travel note of the week
The wife and I made an impromptu trip to New Jersey this week to deal with a family emergency. The plan was to hit the Pennsylvania turnpike Wednesday evening and stop at a hotel along the way. One problem: The properties we investigated—two Hampton Inn hotels, a Holiday Inn and a Holiday Inn Express—were booked solid. I can’t imagine these interstate properties were booked online weeks or days in advance, which leads to only one assumption: The walk-in business is alive and well for well-positioned properties across America’s highways and byways.
Stat of the week I
1%: Average international hotel rate increase for business travelers for the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same period a year ago, according to American Express Global Business Travel.
Stat of the week II
5%: Average hotel rate increase for business travelers in the U.S., according to AmEx.
Quote of the week
“The problem in many markets is that the values have not come back up to 2007 levels. (Property-improvement-plan) issues exacerbate the problem. Even if you have willing capital, if you have a value problem, you’ll have a lot of these guys just shrug their shoulders and give the keys back.”
—Rich Lillis, executive VP of Colliers International Hotels, explaining why the decline in hotel values is hurting borrowers facing maturity defaults in “CMBS delinquencies rocket higher in May.”
Comment of the week
“I just completed sales training for over 80 spa therapists at the hotel ranked # 1 for luxury & service in India. It takes more than lip service to be at the top and many hotel groups are not willing to invest the time (or money) for their employees to be properly trained. It does not matter how many wonderful amenities you have at your hotel the relationship between the guest and employee always sets the tone and brings the guest back again.”
—Commenter “Linda Harding-Bond” responding to “Investing in employees can boost hotel value,” in which panelists at the Caribbean Tourism Summit & Outlook Seminar discussed how exemplary customer service can boost a hotel asset’s value.
Email Patrick Mayock or find him on Twitter.
The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of HotelNewsNow.com or its parent company, Smith Travel Research and its affiliated companies. Bloggers published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.